Join our thriving community of higher degree research candidates who are contributing to human progress in Australia and beyond. We offer both masters by research and PhD doctorates, with a simple step-by-step application process that you can complete entirely online. 

Applications are open for a range of research masters and PhDs.

Apply for your research degree in seven steps

Your research journey with us will be different to any other. We encourage informed debate and community engagement, and offer six research institutes and many emerging research strengths.

Apply for a research degree using our step-by-step guide. Follow the instructions on this page if you want to apply for one of the following degrees:

  • Masters by research
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Confirm your applicant status and study

Before you begin, it’s important to confirm that you’re an international applicant and that a research degree is the right study for you.

Am I domestic or international?

You are an international applicant if you will need a temporary student visa to study in Australia.

You are a domestic student if you are one of the following: 

  • Australian citizen
  • Australian permanent resident
  • Australian permanent humanitarian visa holder 
  • New Zealand citizen.

If you’re a domestic student, you should visit our step-by-step guide for domestic research applications and follow those instructions.

Go to domestic research application guide

Is research or coursework right for me?

A research degree is a masters or doctorate that is mostly made up of researching and writing a single thesis. 

We also offer postgraduate degrees made up of different units and classes, however these are known as postgraduate coursework degrees.

If you are an international applicant looking to apply for a postgraduate coursework degree, such as a graduate certificate, graduate diploma or masters by coursework, you should visit our international application page for postgraduate students.

How to apply for a postgraduate coursework degree (international)


1. Choose your course

Choose your preferred research course from the list below and read the individual course descriptions:

2. Check your eligibility

To be eligible for admission to one of our research courses, you need to meet the entry requirements.

Please note: Even if you do meet the requirements, admission is not guaranteed. Other parts of your application that we’ll take into consideration include:

  • your potential to undertake research
  • the quality and feasibility of your research proposal
  • the availability of appropriate supervision
  • your referee reports. 

To learn more about how we will assess your application, visit the Higher Degree Research Regulations.

English language proficiency

You may need to demonstrate your English language proficiency if:

  • English is not your first language
  • you did not attend university in English and in an approved English-speaking country.

You can prove your English proficiency by providing us with evidence of your previous studies or qualifications, or by achieving a certain score in a relevant English language test. 

Find out more about our English proficiency requirements

Entry requirements by degree

You can check your eligibility for your chosen research course by viewing its individual entry requirements.

See requirements below and in the Higher Degree Research Regulations.

You must have one of the following to be eligible for admission to a DMin:

  • an appropriate undergraduate degree with honours at a minimum level of Second Class Division A (Distinction average) (or equivalent)
  • a masters degree with appropriate research training in a relevant field
  • an equivalent qualification and/or demonstrated research experience, with evidence of capacity to undertake independent research work (eg, an authored publication).

You must have one of the following to be eligible for admission to a PhD:

  • an appropriate undergraduate degree with honours at a minimum level of Second Class Division A (Distinction average) (or equivalent)
  • a masters degree with appropriate research training in a relevant field
  • an equivalent qualification and/or demonstrated research experience, with evidence of capacity to undertake independent research work (eg, an authored publication).

You must have one of the following to be eligible for admission to a Master of Philosophy:

  • an appropriate undergraduate degree with honours at a minimum level of Second Class Division A (Distinction average)
  • postgraduate research training (eg, coursework completed to distinction level or higher or a masters-by-coursework degree)
  • demonstrated research experience with evidence of capacity to undertake independent research work (eg, an authored publication).

3. Accredited supervisors

Before you submit an application for admission, you may wish to identify accredited supervisors who are active in your proposed area of research and, if appropriate, discuss your research proposal with them.

It is not mandatory to contact accredited supervisors prior to applying . If you’re successful, the University will allocate suitably accredited supervisors to you (refer Higher Degree Regulation 5).

Should you contact an academic and they indicate they are willing to supervise you, this does not guarantee you will be admitted to the program or that they will be one of your supervisors. The availability of suitable supervision is assessed as part of your application for admission (refer Higher Degree Research Regulation 5).

Supervisors may be on a different campus from a HDR candidate. 

To discuss possible supervisors, please contact the Faculty Associate Dean (Research) or HDR Coordinator of the Faculty to which you will apply for admission.

4. View closing dates

We are now accepting applications from prospective domestic and international candidates for study commencing in 2022. 

Candidates may commence prior to the census date in either Research Term A or Research Term C.

If you are applying for candidature and a stipend scholarship, refer to the application deadline listed on the research scholarships page

If you are applying for candidature only, you can submit your application at any time, though you are strongly encouraged to submit at least 12 weeks prior to the start of your preferred Research Term .

5. Start an application for admission

To begin the application process, register at our online application system and begin filling out an application for admission.

You will need to supply your name and an email address. Please use an email address you check regularly. 

Start your application now

Write a research proposal

You will also need to write a research proposal as part of your research application. 

As part of your MPhil/PhD application, you must include a 2,000-word research proposal (in Word or PDF) which includes:

  1. Description of research problem
  2. Aims, theoretical background and hypotheses/research questions
  3. Methodology and approach
  4. Timeline
  5. Resources required to conduct the research (financial, non-financial, and possible sources of funding)
  6. A relevant bibliography/referencing section (Note: this does not contribute to the word count)

6. Prepare your documents

You will need to gather certified copies of all the necessary documents for your application.

These documents include:

  • completed research proposal
  • academic qualifications (transcripts and completion certificates)
  • passport
  • evidence of English proficiency
  • any other documents which can support your application, such as copies of prior research, awards or work experience.

Copies of these documents will need to be certified and signed by an approved official such as a Justice of the Peace. A certified copy is a photocopy of an original document that has been “certified” as a true copy. 

The official must include his/her professional registration number (if applicable) when certifying your documents.

Organise your confidential referee reports

You must also ensure that two confidential referee reports are provided independently, by email, by your chosen referees at the time of submission of your application. 

To do this, approach two referees and inquire whether they are willing to complete a confidential referee report on your behalf. 

Then download ACU's referee report template and complete Section 1. 

Download our referee report template (Word 94KB)

Once you’ve done that, forward the form to each of your referees and ask them to complete the form and submit it directly to the international admissions office by email by the closing date for applications.

 Please note: You are responsible for ensuring that your referees return the reports to the international admissions office email address. Your application will not be considered until two referee reports have been received.

7. Apply

When you have completed everything in your application (and rechecked everything to be sure), you can submit it through any of the following methods:

Please note: You must submit your application form to us with a research proposal attached. It will be considered an incomplete application if your proposal isn’t attached, and may be delayed or rejected.

Next steps

After you’ve submitted your application, you will get confirmation that we have received it and will begin processing it. We will let you know the outcome as soon as we can

1. If you receive an offer

Congratulations on receiving your research offer. Follow the instructions on your offer to accept or decline your offer.

For other options please read our International candidate commencement information (PDF, 145KB).

To request a temporary offshore commencement of your enrolment, complete the Temporary offshore commencement application form (DOCX, 130KB)

To request assistance with relocation costs to Australia complete the Research Training Program (RTP) Allowance Scholarship (Relocation) Application form (DOCX)

2. Learn about the research journey

After you have accepted your offer, we suggest you learn about your research journey, including enrolment, confirmation, milestone updates and graduation.

Learn more about the candidate journey

3. Check start dates

Our research students have a different calendar to other students. Find out about our four research terms and see when your official start date is.

View current and upcoming semester, term and trimester dates

Need help? We are here to assist

Contact our international student support team if you have any questions about your application to study at ACU. We can also answer you enquiries about arriving, living and studying in Australia.

Contact the friendly team at international student support

University terminology explained

Unsure what some of these words mean? We’ve put together a glossary to explain our technical terms in plain English.

Read our glossary


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